Eagles news: Recent theories refute claims that Fletcher Cox is still elite

Fletcher Cox #91, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Fletcher Cox #91, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Many of us never thought we’d see the day. On March 17th, the Philadelphia Eagles sent shockwaves through the NFL landscape by announcing that they had released Fletcher Cox… sort of. Those of us that have watched this team forever had a thought in the back of our minds. This voice kept saying “he’ll be back”.

That voice knew what it was talking about, and two days later, Fletch returned, inking a one-year deal on March 19th worth $14 million. That’s when the water got a tad muddier. Fletcher Cox is the owner of one of those names that splits the Eagles fan base, much like Carson Wentz used to.

Everyone sees one of the best players to ever wear the midnight green jersey. Some still see him as a force at his position. Others see a good player on the downside of a career that should send him to Canton, Ohio, but there’s an accompanying feeling, one that says he isn’t as good as he once was. Some have even questioned his motor.

Here’s what we can say. His coaches love him. So do his teammates, but ask yourselves this. If you didn’t know anything about Fletch before this past season and you watched him play in 2021, would you give THAT guy $14 million?

Debate continues, but some believe that Fletcher Cox is the game-wrecker and force that he used to be.

Rewind the game film to 2017. Fletcher Cox and his Eagles teammates were putting the bow on a season in which they had hoisted the Vince Lombardi Trophy and finally become Super Bowl Champions. That season led to another Second-Team All-Pro nod, his third, and another trip to the Pro Bowl. It was the third time that had happened.

Number 91 was on top of the world.

The hits kept coming for Cox. He’s since added three more Pro Bowl nods (2018-2020) and a First-Team All-Pro designation (2018) to a resume that most of his peers would love to boast on. Had it not been for some guy named Aaron Donald, Fletch would have enjoyed the fanfare of being labeled as the game’s best defensive tackle. Times have changed though.

Donald still enjoys being mentioned as not only the NFL’s best defensive tackle. Some say he’s the game’s best defender regardless of position. Fletch is no longer mentioned in the same breath, nor is he seen as the NFL’s second-best D-tackle. Some say he isn’t even the best defensive tackle on the Eagles roster anymore thanks to the emergence of Javon Hargrave.

These days, Fletch is staring up on the list of the NFL’s best interior defensive linemen at some younger guys. Names like  Jeffery Simmons, Tennessee Titans, Cameron Heyward, Pittsburgh Steelers, DeForest Buckner, Indianapolis Colts, and Chris Jones, Kansas City Chiefs come to mind.

Recently, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler stacked a list of his own after speaking with NFL executives, coaches, and players. Number 91 failed to crack the top ten, but he did earn an honorable mention, along with Hargrave. There have even been theories that state that he may not be a Hall-of-Famer. That’s probably taking things too far, but that should make you think about a few things for a second.

They say opinions are only as valuable as one’s knowledge of a particular subject. Sure, some of you think Fletcher Cox elite, but the people who run NFL franchises, play on NFL rosters, and coach NFL talent say otherwise. That speaks volumes, and if you’re one of those people that can’t see that or are too stubborn to acknowledge that the argument has credence, you may be arguing on emotions as opposed to facts.

Look, we get it! We truly do! Fletcher Cox is still one of the most popular Eagles on the roster, with teammates and with fans. He isn’t what he once was. That’s clear, but even with the dropoff, he’s still much better than many of the guys in this league that play his position.

The 2022-2023 NFL season, his 11th, might be his final run in the City of Brotherly Love. If it is, this has been fun, but we have a long time before we have to have that discussion. Right now, more important topics are on the table, like whether he’s lost that motor or not and whether or not the work ethic is evaporating. If that’s the case, questions need to be answered about whether or not he should be mentoring younger Birds and teaching them bad habits.

The Philadelphia Eagles used to be a franchise that DIDN’T emotionally overpay for players. They were known for moving on from some talented guys a year or so too early (Duce Staley, Brian Dawkins). Often, some of those decisions hurt, but we understood what they were doing.

At other times, we’ve even seen them move off of guys much too early. Some of those guys turned out to be pretty good (Jordan Poyer, Jordan Hicks), but again, we could understand the thought process. Hicks got hurt a lot, and no one knew that the Jordan Poyer we saw in Philly would wind up being the First-team All-Pro that we watched play for the Buffalo Bills a season ago.

Recently, we’ve been introduced to a newer, more patient Eagles front office. Perhaps, they’ve been too patient at times.

Nowadays, one of the biggest knocks on Philadelphia’s leadership structure has been that Howie had gotten too attached (or just wanted to prove that he was right when he wasn’t). That’s resulted in guys hanging around too long and getting too many opportunities (Jason Peters, Alshon Jeffery, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Jalen Reagor).

Sometimes, that’s handcuffed the organization from being aggressive in free agency, but this past season, we saw Howie’s growth. He’s learning from past mistakes.

Sure, there are still some guys on the roster that we thought the Birds would have and probably should have moved on from (Andre Dillard, Anthony Harris, Derek Barnett), and there are the guys that fall in the category of being debatable, the guys that we disagree about. You can throw Greg Ward and, yes, Fletcher Cox in that category.

Trending. Reasons to be bet on Jalen Hurts. light

Much will be ironed out in 2023. Cox and Javon Hargrave are in the final years of their current deals. Some see Philly’s transition to the 3-4 defensive scheme from the 4-3 as being inevitable. The Birds have a shiny new D-tackle/nose tackle hybrid in rookie Jordan Davis.

Again, if this is the final 17-game regular-season stretch for Number 91, it has been fun. In the meantime, let’s enjoy the ride. Something tells us that it will be memorable. Something tells us Fletch wants to prove the naysayers wrong, and frankly, no one should believe that he doesn’t have enough left in the tank to make that happen.